As part of ensuring production moves forward, Amazon made sure therapists are present to support the Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power cast. There may be fans who have strong opinions as to how the classic literature from John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, and there are those who take their opinions to a new level. A level that can actually hurt the mental health of those involved in the project.
The times have changed as to how audiences expect their beloved stories to get adapted into a series or a movie. There is a growing intention of better representation and inclusion in the recent titles for the small and big screen. Diversity is getting a better-sized slice of the pie nowadays as compared to a decade ago.
Representation of diversified race, as well as gender inclusivity in casting a high-profile project, definitely creates a statement for the production. The first time that Amazon disclosed that they would be featuring a person of colour to portray the role of an elf in the series, the production faced a massive backlash of criticism.
Some say that casting people of colour for an elven role even went against what Tolkien envisioned, as the author described the characters to be fairest of all kinds. Others argued that nobody could be pretty certain as to what Tolkien actually had in mind when he described the race as fair.
What was clearly described in colour is the hair being light, yellow or deep golden, but there are also elves who had dark brown, black or even silver. Also, the eyes in Tolkien’s writing, while it tends to be described as grey, likewise have elves in the story who had blue and dark eyes. Thus, it is also difficult to ultimately say that elves have belonged to only one race of colour.
Therapists Provide Support for Cast of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series
In a recent appearance on the Just for Variety podcast, actor Ismael Cruz Córdova opened up to the fact that the production needed the presence of a therapist throughout the shoot. This was when the racist backlash was at its all-time high for the production. Being the first person of colour to portray an elf in the series made him a target of most social media attacks. He said:
You need support when this happens because the voices are so loud and they’re coming at you from so many places.
The production had a therapist on set for anyone who needed help going through the ordeal. And Córdova took solace in the knowledge that there was someone close by to support him. He continued:
I loved seeing her there, even if we didn’t speak. I knew there was someone there seeing me completely. It wasn’t just as an actor.
Describing his experience during those times as his character Arondir, he said:
It hurt. It had a psychological and mental health impact. That’s something that I’m very, very open about so that people understand that what they do and say online really hurts people, really has an impact on us.
Furthermore, some people went beyond mere words online to attack the actor for being involved in the production as the character he was cast for. He shared:
My phone got hacked. I had bank account attempts of being hacked. My PayPal got hacked. My friends got messages. I got death threats. I got things mailed to me. People found out my address. It was a lot of that.
However, time has passed, and production pushed through. The season streamed, and now they are deep in production for season 2. He beamed:
We’re still here.
A good portion of Córdova powering through those times of challenge is his drive to achieve his goals. Initially he shared that he didn’t get the part. However, he persisted and worked his way to be reconsidered. He shared:
I grew up with that rejection all around me. And that’s something that’s driven me. I was not going to take a ‘no’ for an answer because I knew what this role would entail. I knew what it would do in the scope of fantasy.
He further explained:
I knew that I wanted to be part of something historic, especially with the elves. The elves have been historically portrayed as white and Aryan. I wanted to be an elf. I was a mountain boy [who grew up in Puerto Rico]. I was in love with nature, and I knew it would change things.
Elf From Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series Knew Things Will Change
Through the course of the interview, listeners and readers got an idea of what the actor means to share with the world. Every person has that chance to go for their dreams. Córdova also had a shot at being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but things didn’t pan out as he would have liked. Although, his hope is still alive that one day he’d also land a role in the MCU. He declared:
I love characters that are improbable heroes that are people that have got the worst deck dealt. That is my story. And I find that is many of our stories. And life is not just this little journey of redemption.
Sending his message across, he emphasized:
How many of us were bullied? How many of us were poor? How many of us cast away? How many of our identities were something that you couldn’t be. A lot of us got cards that were a bad deck.
It is reassuring for the fans that Amazon has the best interest of their actors in mind, and this may be a practice not only observed in their Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series.
What do you make of this Amazon’s move to keep a therapist on set during the production of their Lord of the Rings series? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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